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How many planets? 'Ecological footprint' theory has nothing to do with ecology

Posted on 06/19/2007 1:34:09 PM PDT by Reform Canada

How many planets? 'Ecological footprint' theory has nothing to do with ecology and everything to do with a slavish worship of primitivism

Lawrence Solomon Financial Post

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

CREDIT: Myfootprint.Org, Kagan McLeod, National Post The number of planets needed to support different lifestyles, according to an "ecological footprint" test at www.myfootprint.org.

To learn how reprehensible you are, visit www.myfootprint.org to determine your ecological footprint. Five minutes later, after you have breezed through the 14-question survey inquiring as to where you live, how you get around, how often you eat meat, and whether your home has electricity and running water, you will discover that five to six Earths, or maybe even more, would be required to sustain the planet's human population if everyone squandered as many resources as you.

Redo the survey, imagining that you have reformed your profligate lifestyle. You now live in a tiny house. You take public transit daily, refusing to even share an automobile ride with a friend. You eat meat only once a week. You have fewer than 2.2 children. You take no trips by plane.

Not good enough. "If everyone lived like you," the Web site tells you, "we would need 3.0 planets."

Think "subsistence." Give up that tiny house and move into a hut with no electricity or running water. Give up public transit and ride a mule. Forsake meat altogether and forsake your children, too.

Still not good enough -- "we would need 1.4 planets" to support a world in which everyone lived like you, the Web site admonishes. To get your footprint down to about one planet, it turns out, you also need to become a vegan -- no eggs, cheese or other animal products --or to give up on oranges and bananas, which are imported from faraway places.

The ecological footprint is the 1992 brainchild of William Rees, a British Columbia professor of regional planning, who counted up all the productive land on Earth (he says it's easy), divided it by the world's population, and subtracted the amount of land needed to absorb the carbon dioxide and other wastes that humans produce. The result is the average footprint available to humans at our current population.

This simple model offended environmentalists, however. It penalized organic farming, which has low yields, and also encouraged the conversion of original ecosystems to high-yield monoculture crops. When applied to countries, it made Canadians seem very virtuous because of our vast agricultural lands.

So Rees with others, and then others without Rees, began churning out new, improved footprint models. When these, too, didn't produce the results they needed they layered biodiversity models over the footprint models in repeated attempts to overcome the continuing shortcomings.

They failed, and will continue to do so, and not only because their crude one-size-fits-all approach to the environment is profoundly anti-ecological -- Earth abounds with ecological niches, each with its own characteristics, each having different productive capacities in different hands at different times. These models fail because they have it backward. Our footprint doesn't decrease as we approach a subsistence economy, and meat consumption doesn't doom us to wasteful agriculture. Just the opposite.

The first settlers in my city of Toronto, for example, were Indians, who initially lived in communities of several hundred, later increasing to several thousand. These Iroquois were Big Foots. Apart from requiring outlying hunting and fishing camps, along with foraging grounds, Iroquois agriculture required about one hectare per person, which they would clear by girdling trees (removing the bark at their base to kill them) and burning brush and weeds. The soil in these fields, because it wasn't manured, quickly became depleted, forcing the Iroquois to relocate their villages to nearby areas. The scarred lands that they abandoned only slowly returned to wilderness.

The footprint of Toronto residents, as with those in other parts of North America, became smaller with the arrival of European settlers, who brought with them livestock and a more efficient agriculture. With livestock manure replenishing the soil, settlements became permanent and surrounding areas were put to better use.

With further improvements in agriculture, the footprint became smaller still. By 1900, half as many farmers were required to feed us as in colonial times, along with far less land. That trend continues today, with ever less land needed to feed ever more people living ever longer and at ever higher standards -- malnutrition, once a major concern, has all but vanished here. Likewise, with virtually all other commodities, humans do more and more with less and less. We are more resource-efficient now than at any time in human history.

To ecological-footprint advocates such as Rees, technological improvements do not demonstrate human resourcefulness and adaptability. Rather, they are part of the problem.

"We can show that, in fact, in the world's most technological economically efficient countries such as Japan, the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, as their technologies have improved, as efficiencies have steadily increased over the last couple of decades, so has per-capita consumption," Rees states. "And therefore, of course, gross consumption and gross waste production are also increasing. I would even argue that this is a result of increased efficiencies."

Even the high-tech, low-resource use information-technology industries, which generate great wealth with little more resources than those required for a silicone chip, draw regrets. "The problem is, if you look a little deeper, people in these kinds of high-end service and knowledge-based sectors are high-income earners. It's not as if the resource-based or manufacturing sectors have gone away. They've simply become relatively less important in terms of their contribution to GDP. Yes, we're creating more of our money wealth through the knowledge-based sectors, but in so doing, our incomes are rising more rapidly, so per-capita consumption increases," Rees says.

Ecological footprints are really not about living within our means by making the most of the resources that we have in our world, they're about making do with less, in the belief that we'll become spiritually advanced in the process --Rees asserts that a GDP of $7,000 to $8,000 per person is all that's needed to maximize human happiness. Surpluses above that should be taxed away, to prevent people from over-consuming.

Ecological footprints are really not about ecology, either.

--- - Lawrence Solomon is executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute and author of Toronto Sprawls: A History (University of Toronto Press). www.urban-renaissance.org.

LawrenceSolomon@nextcity.com


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: climatechange; globalwarming; globalwarminghoax; ipcc; kyoto

1 posted on 06/19/2007 1:34:16 PM PDT by Reform Canada
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To: fanfan; GMMAC; xcamel; DaveLoneRanger; Baynative; calcowgirl; sourcery; Clive; sionnsar; ...

ping


2 posted on 06/19/2007 1:34:46 PM PDT by Reform Canada (Kyoto=>More Unemployment=>More Poverty=>More Homeless=>More Crime=>More Rape & Murder)
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To: Reform Canada
Iroquois agriculture required about one hectare per person, which they would clear by girdling trees (removing the bark at their base to kill them) and burning brush and weeds. The soil in these fields, because it wasn't manured, quickly became depleted, forcing the Iroquois to relocate their villages to nearby areas.

Recent research tends to disagree with this theory that Indians routinely practiced slash-and-burn agriculture. Without steel tools it is much easier to keep fields productive than to create new ones from the forest.

3 posted on 06/19/2007 1:38:01 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: Reform Canada
Rees asserts that a GDP of $7,000 to $8,000 per person is all that's needed to maximize human happiness.

I wonder what Rees lives on.

4 posted on 06/19/2007 1:40:18 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: Sherman Logan

Did it last night from some other thread on another forum.

20 acres, 4.6 planets. I don’t use enough.


5 posted on 06/19/2007 1:43:47 PM PDT by Domandred
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To: Reform Canada

This is old for FR. There was at least one thread over a year ago.


6 posted on 06/19/2007 1:46:48 PM PDT by RightWhale (Repeal the Treaty)
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To: Domandred

24 acres, 5.3 planets.

I win!


7 posted on 06/19/2007 1:47:44 PM PDT by Sherman Logan (Diversity in theory is the enemy of diversity in practice.)
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To: Reform Canada
I took the quiz, I got this screaming answer.

"IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 6.8 PLANETS."

8 posted on 06/19/2007 1:48:27 PM PDT by #1CTYankee (That's right, I have no proof. So what of it??)
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To: Reform Canada

Anybody got a link?


9 posted on 06/19/2007 1:49:34 PM PDT by JamesP81 (Romans 10:9)
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To: Domandred
I love my score:

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 7.4 PLANETS.

I need 33 acres.

10 posted on 06/19/2007 1:49:35 PM PDT by mnehring (Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit)
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To: Reform Canada

I want my, I want my MTV. You can have my air conditioning and TV remote when you pry it from my cold dead hands.


11 posted on 06/19/2007 1:50:49 PM PDT by BipolarBob (Yes I backed over the vampire, but I swear I didn't see it in my rear view mirror.)
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To: mnehrling

You beat me!


12 posted on 06/19/2007 1:52:51 PM PDT by #1CTYankee (That's right, I have no proof. So what of it??)
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To: Reform Canada

13.9 planets! Yes!!!


13 posted on 06/19/2007 1:53:36 PM PDT by GodBlessRonaldReagan (Big dog, big dog, bow-wow-wow! We'll crush crime, now, now, now!)
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To: Reform Canada

Wow, I would need 7 planets.
We should start thinking about how we should conquer other worlds for our our use now.


14 posted on 06/19/2007 1:53:42 PM PDT by BuffaloJack
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To: Sherman Logan
“Rees asserts that a GDP of $7,000 to $8,000 per person is all that’s needed to maximize human happiness.
I wonder what Rees lives on.”

Yeah maybe in South Africa or Columbia.

Try living on 8k in the US... Unless your housing is paid for and tax rates low...

15 posted on 06/19/2007 1:57:27 PM PDT by Syntyr (Freepers - In the top %5 of informed Americans!)
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To: Reform Canada

I really abuse the Earth... I cycle to work every day and it would still take 3 Earths to support a world of me.

science and politics.. 2 things that should never mix.


16 posted on 06/19/2007 2:00:49 PM PDT by Silicon Cowboy
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To: Sherman Logan
24 acres, 5.3 planets.

I win!

Not so fast, bucko!

28 acres, 6.3 planets!

WooHoo!

17 posted on 06/19/2007 2:03:13 PM PDT by TChris (The Republican Party is merely the Democrat Party's "away" jersey - Vox Day)
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To: Syntyr

BwaHahahaha!!!!

You don’t really think he meant this for HIMSELF, did you?

Could you imagine if the University Chancellor told him his salary would be cut to $7,000 so the dear Professor didn’t get an urge to spend wastefully? you think he’d agree to this?


18 posted on 06/19/2007 2:08:45 PM PDT by Alas Babylon!
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To: Reform Canada

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 4.9 PLANETS

And if everyone lived like those in Hollywood, we would need 25,000 Cable Channels.


19 posted on 06/19/2007 2:13:05 PM PDT by weegee (Libs want us to learn to live with terrorism, but if a gun is used they want to rewrite the Const.)
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To: Reform Canada

people need to relax and have a cool beverage.


20 posted on 06/19/2007 2:20:30 PM PDT by Kirkwood
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To: Reform Canada

The website is biased.

I answered the questions as similarly as possible, for my real location (over nine earths), and for an african country (three earths).

Bullsh!t


21 posted on 06/19/2007 2:22:31 PM PDT by Born to Conserve
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To: TChris

I got 15 planets. You really get dinged for having a house in the country and commuting by plane.


22 posted on 06/19/2007 2:29:32 PM PDT by Kirkwood
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To: Kirkwood
I got 15 planets. You really get dinged for having a house in the country and commuting by plane.

Yeah, if everyone commuted by plane you would need 15 planets to make room for all of 'em! :-)

23 posted on 06/19/2007 2:32:36 PM PDT by TChris (The Republican Party is merely the Democrat Party's "away" jersey - Vox Day)
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To: Sherman Logan

Must live on ramen noodles and live in a tent.


24 posted on 06/19/2007 2:34:42 PM PDT by RockinRight (Our 44th President will be Fred Dalton Thompson!)
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To: Domandred

CATEGORY ACRES

FOOD 6.9

MOBILITY 5.2

SHELTER 6.4

GOODS/SERVICES 10.6

TOTAL FOOTPRINT 29

IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 24 ACRES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 4.5 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE ACRES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 6.6 PLANETS.

Woot!!


25 posted on 06/19/2007 2:41:30 PM PDT by RockinRight (Our 44th President will be Fred Dalton Thompson!)
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To: Kirkwood
You really get dinged for having a house in the country and commuting by plane.

Yea but I bet you make up for it in the jealousy factor...

26 posted on 06/19/2007 2:42:57 PM PDT by Domandred
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To: Reform Canada
Anyone catch this?

"This simple model offended environmentalists, however. It penalized organic farming, which has low yields, and also encouraged the conversion of original ecosystems to high-yield monoculture crops. When applied to countries, it made Canadians seem very virtuous because of our vast agricultural lands. So Rees with others, and then others without Rees, began churning out new, improved footprint models. When these, too, didn't produce the results they needed they layered biodiversity models over the footprint models in repeated attempts to overcome the continuing shortcomings.

In other words, we didn't like the results so we changed the model to match our ideologies.

27 posted on 06/19/2007 3:00:50 PM PDT by Fudd
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To: Reform Canada

CATEGORY ACRES

FOOD 5.4

MOBILITY 7.2

SHELTER 12.8

GOODS/SERVICES 18

TOTAL FOOTPRINT 43

IN COMPARISON, THE AVERAGE ECOLOGICAL FOOTPRINT IN YOUR COUNTRY IS 24 ACRES PER PERSON.

WORLDWIDE, THERE EXIST 4.5 BIOLOGICALLY PRODUCTIVE ACRES PER PERSON.

IF EVERYONE LIVED LIKE YOU, WE WOULD NEED 9.8 PLANETS.

OK, so let’s get some more planets.


28 posted on 06/19/2007 3:03:33 PM PDT by SaxxonWoods (...."We're the govt, and we're here to hurt."....)
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan

13.9 planets! Yes!!!


Alright dude! Way to Pig Out!


29 posted on 06/19/2007 3:09:48 PM PDT by Grizzled Bear ("Does not play well with others.")
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To: Reform Canada
Footprint 28

6.4 Planets

I guess I need to eat more cheeseburgers, get a bigger truck and a bigger house, and move father away from work!

30 posted on 06/19/2007 3:17:51 PM PDT by Doomonyou (Let them eat lead.)
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To: Reform Canada
If we need more planets, there are several more out there for the taking. Oh we wouldn't want to live on them, but they do have resources. As far as energy, there's that big yellow ball that all the planets circle around, it's a profligate waster of energy, most of it's output never falls on any of those planets. Surely we could caputure some of that bounty for our use.

It's raining soup out there, and instead of building bowls, the "only one earth" folks want us all to just shrivel up and die.

31 posted on 06/19/2007 3:19:19 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: Reform Canada
If we need more planets, there are several more out there for the taking. Oh we wouldn't want to live on them, but they do have resources. As far as energy, there's that big yellow ball that all the planets circle around, it's a profligate waster of energy, most of it's output never falls on any of those planets. Surely we could capture some of that bounty for our use.

It's raining soup out there, and instead of building bowls, the "only one earth" folks want us all to just shrivel up and die.

32 posted on 06/19/2007 3:19:24 PM PDT by El Gato ("The Second Amendment is the RESET button of the United States Constitution." -- Doug McKay)
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To: Reform Canada

So let’s go find some more planets to live on. Or at least terraform the ones we already know of. What’s the problem here? When your children grow up, you don’t reduce your lifestyle so they can live with you and have more children living with you in your house - they go out and get more houses to live in. We just need more planets.


33 posted on 06/19/2007 3:25:07 PM PDT by FreedomCalls (It's the "Statue of Liberty," not the "Statue of Security.")
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To: mnehrling

Ha Ha!!

I need 37 acres ... 8.2 planets!! Woo Hoo!

My evil scheme to create a huge ecological footprint is working ... you’ll not foil me this time, Superman!

Signed,
Lex Luthor


34 posted on 06/19/2007 4:15:23 PM PDT by SnakeDoctor
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To: Hemmorhage
I planned to create the biggest ecological footprint and I would have gotten away with it; if it weren’t for you meddling kids..

Time to trade the Hummer H3 on a H2 and see if I can bump it up some.. maybe a bigger house..

35 posted on 06/19/2007 4:26:35 PM PDT by mnehring (Virtus Junxit Mors Non Separabit)
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To: Reform Canada; GMMAC; Pikamax; Former Proud Canadian; Alberta's Child; headsonpikes; Ryle; ...
Canada ping.

Please send me a FReepmail to get on or off this Canada ping list.

36 posted on 06/19/2007 4:44:32 PM PDT by fanfan ("We don't start fights my friends, but we finish them, and never leave until our work is done."PMSH)
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To: Reform Canada; Killing Time; Beowulf; Mr. Peabody; RW_Whacko; honolulugal; SideoutFred; Ole Okie; ..


FReepmail me to get on or off
Click on POGW graphic for full GW rundown
Dr. John Ray's
GREENIE WATCH



37 posted on 06/20/2007 8:18:23 AM PDT by xcamel ("It's Thompson Time!")
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To: JamesP81; Reform Canada
Link to article
38 posted on 06/20/2007 8:47:43 AM PDT by Constitutionalist Conservative (Global Warming Heretic -- http://agw-heretic.blogspot.com)
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To: Reform Canada
WooHoo! 57 acres, 12.8 planets.

Lots of air travel and bad gas mileage in my gas-guzzler SUV really helps!

Just wasting the energy the tree-huggers won't waste.

39 posted on 06/20/2007 9:16:52 AM PDT by 50mm (Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist - G. Carlin)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; Rurudyne; steelyourfaith; Tolerance Sucks Rocks; xcamel; AdmSmith; ...
Note: this topic is from 6/19/2007.
Thanks Reform Canada.
To ecological-footprint advocates such as Rees, technological improvements do not demonstrate human resourcefulness and adaptability. Rather, they are part of the problem. "We can show that, in fact, in the world's most technological economically efficient countries such as Japan, the United States, West Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, as their technologies have improved, as efficiencies have steadily increased over the last couple of decades, so has per-capita consumption," Rees states. "And therefore, of course, gross consumption and gross waste production are also increasing. I would even argue that this is a result of increased efficiencies."
Gosh, it's almost as if world society and the economy isn't an oil painting as the ecotards claim.


40 posted on 03/29/2012 4:32:00 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him)
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To: Reform Canada

There was nowhere to detail our second home in south Texas.


41 posted on 03/29/2012 5:27:30 PM PDT by Eaker (Remember, the enemy tends to wise up at the least convenient moments.)
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To: Eaker

Do them separately and add them together. I’ll bet you and Sqantos could get to 30 planets.


42 posted on 03/29/2012 5:51:55 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: Lurker; Squantos
I’ll bet you and Sqantos could get to 30 planets.

Squantos would just blow one up, blame me and keep the best 15 for himself!

43 posted on 03/29/2012 6:01:54 PM PDT by Eaker (Remember, the enemy tends to wise up at the least convenient moments.)
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To: Eaker; Lurker
You do pay attention !

* tick !

44 posted on 03/29/2012 7:13:33 PM PDT by Squantos (Be polite. Be professional. But have a plan to kill everyone you meet)
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